Hello Children’s Alley families!

We thought it would be best to stay connected during this hectic time. Many of us are facing difficulties and uncertainty, and all with kids at home for longer periods than normal with the closure of schools and child care centers. We are here to help with inspiration, activity ideas and parenting tips, and hope this weekly email can provide a brief time to come together and uplift our neighbors, friends, and community!

We'll look forward to staying connected with health and wellness inspirations, recipes, and activities to get your family and yourself moving. Let’s stay present and stay positive!
YWCA Virtual Activities
YWCA Boulder County is dedicated to supporting parents and families. As we all deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, the YWCA will begin providing virtual activities and learning opportunities from our Children's Alley teachers.

Check out the video of the week - Cook’s Corner Episode 3! Carter and Tori teach us how to make a Power Gold Smoothie. These smoothies are very versatile - try experimenting with other fruits and veggies in your smoothie! It makes for a great side to breakfast as well as a delicious snack! 

Mental Health Corner
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the parenting expectations you're being faced with during this ongoing shutdown?

Rebecca Parlakian, Senior Director of Programs at ZERO TO THREE, a nonprofit focused on promoting healthy development for children from birth to three, reminds parents "You are enough!" in an article she wrote for PBS, Rebecca shares:

"I’m grateful for all the guidance on daily learning schedules, at-home science experiments, parent-led learning activities and online tours of the world’s museums. I love all those resources, really . But if I’m honest, they are also seriously stressing me out…"

Families weren’t made to live alone, with no social interaction and support. Tired of playing with plastic food? That’s okay! Sick of fights about who got there first, whose turn it is, and who pushed who? Of course you are! Tired of picky eating, weird changes to sleep schedules and passionate demands for Band-Aids? Mmmm, yes. Even great parents get burned out, and it’s okay to acknowledge the hard moments. Parenthood isn’t a sprint to find who’s the best at cutting sandwiches into shapes. Parenting is a marathon where you sometimes hit mile 12 and wonder, why did I do this again?

I’ve never parented through a pandemic before, but I do know that when everything is crazy on the outside, children need love on the inside. The truth is that your child will probably remember little, if anything, about COVID-19 and this extra time at home. But the moments you carve out during the day to connect and cuddle are just what they need right now. The everyday stories, songs and routines you share are exactly the right stuff to help them feel safe, secure and loved. So, drop that load of expectations and take a deep breath. From one friend to another: You are enough."


Infant Activity
Infants learn so much by exploring the world through their senses. Sensory play is important for children of all ages, as it helps to build nerve connections in the brain, encourages the development of motor skills, supports language development, and encourages ‘scientific thinking’ and problem solving. This fun outdoor activity involves sensory play as well as art and science.

Frozen painting
There are several ways you can make frozen paint for your older infant to explore outside.

You can use washable non-toxic tempera paint, a small amount of food coloring mixed in water, or fruit/veggie juices (such as blueberry juice, beet juice, spinach juice, etc.), if you want to ensure the paint is edible. Be aware that any of these options may stain clothing or temporarily stain your child's hands, so wear clothes you don't mind getting messy.

Whatever you choose to paint with, pour it into small bowls, empty plastic baby food containers, plastic cups, or whatever you have on hand and freeze it until it's solid. Bring your baby outside and experiment with your frozen paint on the driveway or sidewalk. You could also paint on paper, an old sheet, or paper bags.

As you explore with your child, talk about the colors of the paint, how it feels on your hands, and what happens as it gets warm and starts to melt.

Be sure to supervise your child closely and remove any pieces that get small enough to become a choking hazard.
Toddler Activity
Toddlers are constantly exploring their surroundings and making connections, which encourages brain development and critical thinking skills. This activity supports and encourages a toddler’s understanding of objects and sounds.

To begin, gather three (or more) Tupperware containers and put them on the ground. Next, either you or your child fill each container with different items such as blocks, keys, rocks, grass, puzzle pieces, etc. (anything can be used, as long as it is safe, and the child can see the object and explore the object with their hands). After items are in the containers and your child has had a chance to explore them, put the lids on the containers and encourage your child to shake them, listening to the sounds the objects make and watching what happens to the items as they shake the containers. This allows children to build connections between what they are seeing, feeling, and hearing. As an extension of this activity you could hide the containers under a box or blanket and shake one container at a time to see if your child can guess what's inside just by listening to the sound it makes.

Active play indoors:

Big body movements are important for large muscle development in our toddlers. A fun way to facilitate the development of these muscles is to have the child fill a laundry basket with things from around the house and have them push it around. They can fill it with toys, shoes, or anything that is safe for them to pick up and move. They can even push laundry around to help with chores!
Preschool Activity
Try making puppets and using them to tell a story. Puppets can be made out of almost anything, so let your child be creative with whatever you have available. Old socks, paper bags, thick paper, paper plates, or even sticks are all great choices. Glue on beads, buttons, cut paper, rocks, or anything else you have to make faces, or draw faces on with crayons or markers. Let your child tell you a story with their puppet or use a puppet to tell a story to a younger or less verbal child.

Bonus: children have a tendency to follow directions given by a puppet more willingly than they might follow directions given by an adult, so try using your puppet and a silly voice to tell your child that it's time to clean up or take a bath!
Our Pre-K classroom has created a wonderful website where our YWCA teaching staff are sharing activities and videos and parents can connect with our staff and other parents. Take a moment to check it out and become a member!

Fruit & Veggie of the Week
Vegetable of the Week:

Arugula

Did you know arugula is also called “Rocket”? Arugula features a strong peppery flavor and goes perfectly as a topping on pizza. This is a unique way to add something healthy to an otherwise unhealthy cheesy pizza. Furthermore, arugula leaves also find a place in making soups, salads, sauces, pesto, and condiments.

Fruit of the Week:

Strawberries

Strawberries have a lot of anti-cancer and anti-disease nutrients, including the all-important Vitamin C.

Check out the nutrition facts here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/strawberries/
Recipe of the Week
Whole Wheat Pancakes

This is a fun recipe to make with your kids! Have them measure out the ingredients, mix and pour, and choose the fruit (or other special ingredients) they want inside! You can also use this same batter to make delicious waffles with crisp edges and soft centers!

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Calories: approx. 223kcal

Ingredients
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ¼ cups milk whole milk is best in this recipe (can use milk alternative)
2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Optional: fresh fruit, flax seed, chocolate chips!
Instructions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, milk, honey and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in melted butter. (The batter will be thick but avoid adding more milk or your pancakes may turn out flat rather than light and fluffy.)
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until just incorporated. It's ok if a few lumps remain; try not to over-mix.
4. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Scoop batter by scant ¼ cup onto the heated griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form and the bottom side of the pancakes are lightly brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook until the second side is browned, about 2 minutes more. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200-degree oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.
5. To make waffles, prepare batter as directed above and then cook according to your waffle maker's instructions.
6. Pancakes and waffles keep well in the freezer. Let cool completely and then freeze in a zip-top plastic bag.

Notes:
● This pancake batter will be thick. Resist adding more milk, as that will create thinner pancakes. We want thick, light and fluffy pancakes, which requires a thick batter.
● I recommend using white whole wheat flour in these pancakes. White whole wheat is made from a different kind of wheat berry and has a lighter color and a more mild, sweeter flavor than regular whole wheat.
● To make waffles, prepare the batter as directed and then cook according to your waffle maker's instructions.

Additional Resources
Education Materials from Growing Gardens

Edible Rainbow for Health : Students will learn about the health benefits of different colored foods and why it is important to "eat the rainbow" through a fun drawing, scavenger hunt in their kitchen and additional supportive materials.

Colorado Soils: Students will learn about the materials that make up soil and learn how to conduct an easy soil test in your own backyard.

Environmental Art: Students will learn about repeating patterns found in nature, the artist work of Andy Goldsworthy, then will be encouraged to make their own environmental art from materials found in yards or the places they explore.

This is a great way for your kids to learn about all the different colored fruits and vegetables they can incorporate into their meals and snacks! Parents, it is a great idea to print out the bingo sheet, put it up on the fridge or another part of the kitchen, and mark off the different foods your kids eat. Allow them to be more involved in understanding what they are eating and why it is good for their bodies. Even you can be an example by eating and marking off the squares as you go!
Domestic Violence Resources
For some in our community, staying home is also not safe.

This is a stressful time for all of us. The uncertainty created by the COVID-19 public health emergency combined with social isolation, reduced access to employment and food, and in some cases lack of child care, is difficult for many families and individuals to endure. Please reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors by phone or video during this time, and help ensure they feel supported. 

We also recognize that for some families and individuals, the difficulties are too much to handle. The Boulder County Abuse and Neglect Hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day, at 303-441-1309.

Boulder County responds to concerns around potential abuse and neglect by working with families and individuals to understand their challenges and -in many cases- connecting them with supports they may need. The safety of children and at-risk adults is a top priority. Anyone witnessing a child or at-risk adult in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.


Here are some tips from SPAN: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence: 

If a friend or a neighbor is in trouble, what can you do?

  • Help them plan where they (and the children), could go in an emergency or if they decide to leave.
  • Agree on a code word or signal they can use to let you know they need help.
  • Help them prepare an excuse so they can leave quickly if they feel threatened.
  • Find out about how the police can protect them, and if calling the police is an option.
  • Help them prepare an "escape bag" and hide it in a safe place. If they leave, they will need money, keys, clothes, bank cards, driver's licence, social security documents, property deeds, medication, birth certificates, passport and any other important documents.
  • Think if it is safe to help interrupt an episode of violence, create a code so you can knock on the door.
  • If they decide to stay they may need to think about other ways to protect themselves and the children from further violence.

***Be careful. Don't place yourself in a position where the person who is being abusive could harm or manipulate you. Don't try to intervene directly if you witness a person being assaulted - call the police instead.***

24-Hour Crisis Line: 303-444-2424
We want to hear from YOU!
If you have questions or concerns and/or would like to request specific topics or recommend ideas, please contact Tori Anderson at Tori@ywcaboulder.org.

We are here to help!

You can also submit questions or feedback anonymously through the signup form (do not enter your name or email in order to make it anonymous).
Thank YOU for your support!
As a nonprofit, our work would not be possible without the support of passionate individuals and businesses like you, who support our programs and services.

If you can, please consider making a donation in whatever amount you are able . Your donation is tax-deductible and eligible for the Colorado Childcare Contribution Tax Credit. Together, we will weather these difficult times and continue our work to provide affordable, high-quality child care for our community.
YWCA Boulder County | ywcaboulder.org